Marriage can feel like the best and worst thing that ever happened to you. It is common for married partners to have some form of resentment. Often these resentments are centered around the division of labor, intimacy, parenting and finances. These resentments can lead to anger, anxiety, loss of self-worth, and a fear of intimacy. When you are upset with your partner, try to remember your emotional connection with them. Anger and resentment can cloud your day, months, or even years. Appreciation for things outside of the marriage can also help you feel more grateful for your spouse.
There can be more severe issues in a marriage that can lead to divorce. An unhealthy marriage can have addiction, abuse, affairs, hatred, and control. When trust is lost, it can be challenging to overcome. Emotional abuse often goes undetected. The person being emotionally abused might blame themselves for not being perfect, good enough, or meeting the controlling person’s standards. They might feel like they are constantly walking on eggshells.
Some major red flags to look out for are being isolated from family and friends, being devalued to the point you don’t like yourself, persistent lying, controlling behaviors, and an inability to overcome an addiction. Addiction can sometimes feel more powerful than the person. If your partner is addicted and refuses to seek help, you might want to consider whether divorce is the right option.
According to Dr. John Gottman, there are six predictors of divorce. One is when one partner starts a conflict with hatred, criticism, and sarcasm. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are what Dr. Gottman calls the Four Horsemen. These behaviors can lead to the other partner feeling shocked and in emotional overload. This emotional overload leads to elevated heartbeat, blood pressure, and adrenaline.
When conflict happens, partners can still repair it. Repairing after a conflict can resolve marriage issues and improve intimacy. However, when there are failed repair attempts, the marriage is unhappy. Marriage partners can be conflict-avoidant, low-conflict, or high-conflict. High-conflict individuals often lack empathy and show controlling and abusive behaviors. If you are in this marriage, it is best to seek the help of a family attorney and a mental health professional.
There is a way to have healthy conflict. Avoiding conflict will not lead to any resolution of the issues that are causing the unhappy marriage. Understanding how to communicate your feelings and needs can lead to a happier and healthier marriage. Conflict can be painful, but resolving and repairing after leads to resolution.